Thursday, July 16, 2015

Christie enlists reporter, editors in his war on mass transit

Police have closed lanes on River Street in Hackensack today to continue the sewer-pipe work shown in this June photo.


You won't have a hard time telling which side The Record is on in yet another doomsday story on NJ Transit fare hikes, labor woes and a widening budget gap.

Today's Page 1 story by the transportation reporter, Christopher Maag, reads like so many others he's written, ignoring or soft-pedaling Governor Christie's 5-year war against mass transit.

The Borg family's hatred of unions is well-known -- none has ever succeeded in representing long-suffering employees of North Jersey Media Group's flagship paper.

So, the contract dispute between NJ Transit and 17 unions representing its 4,263 rail employees is presented as another factor in the agency's "budget crisis" (A-1 and A-6).

The unions have asked for an average 3 percent annual raise over six years. Is that unreasonable?

Well, it might be viewed as such in a newsroom run by editors who have routinely denied raises to so many employees for so many years in return for a promise of lifetime employment from the Borgs.

Today's story also seems to accept Christie's move to slash state aid to NJ Transit by 90 percent since 2012, and doesn't even mention the GOP bully's refusal to raise the low gasoline tax to replenish the state Transportation Trust Fund (A-6). 

What reform?

Christie loves the word "reform," which he used to mask steep cuts in state employee benefits and contributions to their pensions that he needed to balance the state budget.

But not more than Editor Marty Gottlieb, who devotes a nice slice of the front page today to a lame story by Staff Writer Melissa Hayes on the presidential candidate's "plan for criminal justice reform" (A-1).

Maybe, it was just poorly edited, but I can't tell exactly what Christie is proposing without reading almost all of this overly long story, including background on drug courts.

On another front page dominated by international news, why did Gottlieb waste so much space on Sen. Bob Menendez's legal fund (A-1)?

Local news

Gottlieb continues to soil the memory of former Passaic Mayor Margie Semler by placing a story about her memorial and burial on L-6.

I guess there was no room for it on the Local news front (L-1), much of which is taken up a big photo of bored emergency responders taking part in a training exercise "last week." 

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